April 21, 2017

What's the best way to go from open beta to paid?

I wonder which is the best way to transition from an open beta to a closed product behind a paywall, especially towards people who are already using the app...

  • an email warning them a couple of weeks in advance?

  • an email with immediate effect?

  • don't charge at all to current users and add a paywall for the new ones? <--- of course this is the nicest one, but my goal here is to actually validate the product, so I wonder if any of all the users who have been using the app daily would be willing to pay..


  1. 7

    (I imagine this is a web app)

    I'd place a super-visible banner that states the date when a paid account is required, and maybe a countdown. Add two buttons in the banner [Upgrade account at discounted rate] [Why?]. The first button speaks for itself, while the [Why?] button leads to a blog post or a page where you explain the pricing and why you're starting to charge, and end that page with another [Upgrade account at discounted rate].

    Note: The discounted rate should not actually be discounted. Charge what you were planning to charge and see what happens. Hopefully you'll get some subscriptions at this "discounted" rate, and on launch day you'll be able to raise the price by a little (or a lot, up to you). :)

    Hope my thoughts help!

    1. 2

      it is a web app yeah! sounds good, thanks!

  2. 5

    +1 marcusstenbeck's excellent advice — especially the insight about the "discount" messaging, while charging the rates you truly hope to validate.

    In addition to the super-visible callout (e.g. banner) on the site notifying users of the upcoming change, I would also notify your users via email, as you suggested originally. Why? It's free marketing that serves an authentic, non-spammy purpose, and the email format makes it far more convenient for your users to give you feedback.

    1. 2

      yes, thank you both, great advise! I'll come back and share if someone pays at all haha :P

  3. 2

    Hey @mezod!

    So I actually just went through this with Keygen. What I did was:

    1. About a week before, I pushed an update to my dashboard app that displayed a notice at the top stating when the beta would end and how to upgrade to a paid plan.

    2. Sent a personalized email 1 week out that stated when the beta was ending. I made it clear than all access to the API would halt for non-paid users after the beta ended. I made sure to specify that I was available to get on a call with them to chat about their needs (which resulted in 5 or so calls). I also gave all beta users a 20% coupon on all paid plans, automatically applied to their Stripe customer profile (which I made sure to mention everywhere).

    3. Sent another personalized email to non-paid users the day before reminding everyone that the beta was ending within 24 hours. I included the same prompt to jump on a call if they wanted to chat about their needs and a reminder about their discount.

    Doing the above resulted in 2 conversions within that week period, one of which was put onto a custom plan after chatting about their current needs. I'm now reaching out to the users who didn't convert (~5 a day) with sort-of-cold emails personalized to what I can dig up on each of them.

  4. 2

    Do you have a lot a free early-access users ? In addition to marcusstenbeck great answer, I'd reach out to users, or let myself be super easy to reach out, if they have any question.

    You should be comfortable with how you'll tell your story and why it is in their best interest to pay for your product : because it's fair, because it creates value for them, because it's the condition for the product they use to be maintained and improved. You should also be comfortable with the fact that some users will drop altogether. Don't hesitate to offer them generous discounts (after all, they helped you validate your product in the first place) but I'd draw a line at "free".

  5. 2

    I've been going through this same thought process right now with my side app. It's been almost a year since I opened the first terribly unfinished alpha version to some people and it's finally half-baked enough I think it can work. I've reached out to people somewhat to ask about pricing and gauge reactions to what we're thinking about.

    I'm pretty comfortable now that I'm in the right ballpark for what people will be willing to pay, but won't know for sure until I flip the switch.

    I've been thinking about having kind of a promotional ramp up, announcing that our Beta is going to end on X date, and encourage them to sign up in advance for a discount etc. I've also been thinking about offering some referral campaign or something, so that people on the app could earn a bigger discount by spreading the word.

    Really curious what you decide to do. Please post how it goes :)